Park Theatre

1369 North Queen Street,
Kinston, NC 28501

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The Park Theatre in Kinston was one of the first shopping center theatres in Eastern North Carolina, having been opened by 1951. The theatre had a freestanding box office in front of the entrance and mirrors on the lower facade, under the marquee. The lobby had a stairway to the left side, leading to upstairs restrooms (the only ones in the theatre) and the balcony (closed after 1970). The auditorium was draped with satin curtains all around, and also had a satin-lined ceiling. The curtain over the screen rose vertically with scalloped edges on the bottom.

The Park Theatre was run by H.B. Meiselman Theatres by 1967 and possibly by Eastern Federal in the 1970’s. Competition from Stewart & Everett’s newer suburban theatres (the Mall and Plaza Cinemas) eventually sealed the Park’s fate, and it was closed by 1982. It has sinced been gutted and converted to retail space.

Contributed by NightHawk1

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

cphillips on November 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm

While in high school, I worked at the Park Theater in Kinston from 1969 – 1972 as doorman, concession attendant and Assistant Manager. Manager at the theater at the time was Bryan Mercer, I was Assistant Manager, projectionist upstairs was named John Price. Concession attendant’s name was Janice Hughes (who eventually became my wife) and another doorman’s name was Royce Thigpen – my best friend.

The theater was beautiful inside, mirrored walls, carpeted lobby, sound proof balcony for children, huge large screen, seated around 750 total. We would always begin the movie with the screen curtain closed, opening them up at “just the right moment” when the American Flag would show on the screen and the national anthem would begin to play – another of life’s great lessons, being truly patriotic and a deep-seated respect for our country, our flag and what it stands for.

The theater had a beautiful wrap-around marquee on the front with chasing yellow bulbs – I changed many letters on the marquee while standing on a ladder and my manager was a stickler about making sure everything was exactly centered and spelled correctly, again, a task that would serve me well later in life.

Bryan (manager) was a huge believer in setting up displays that coincided with the movie being played – Herbie Rides Again – we gave away a VW bug – John Wayne movies we had cowboy displays, etc., etc. I learned a lot about visual merchandising from him.

In ‘69, the theater was owned by Eastern Federal, but later was sold to Winyah Bay Theaters out of Easley, SC. Guy by name of Foster McKissick (multi-millionaire) owned Winyah Bay Theaters. District Supervisors’ name was Jim Clark (great guy) who later promoted me to manager of the brand new digital Cinema II Theater in Asheboro, NC.

Should I ever win the “lottery”, I plan on buying the theater property and returning it to it’s glory years… it’s a shame the theaters of today don’t have the glamour and glory of those of years gone by.

RIP Park Theater – you will always hold a fond memory in my heart!

Charles Phillips

NightHawk1 on November 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Cphillips: Was Winyah Bay’s Foster McKissick the same one who later started both Litchfield theater chains (Fairlaine-Litchfield – sold to UA, and the second Litchfield Theatres – sold to Regal Cinemas)? Also regarding the Kinston Park Theatre, was it sold to Martin Theatres along with the Asheboro Cinema 1 & 2? I used to watch movies here at the Kinston Park Theatre in the mid-1970s and don’t remember who ran it at that time. I always thought that this Park Theatre was a Stewart-Everett house after 1977 (S&E bought the old Trans-Lux Inflight Cinema at Kinston Plaza in 1975 and did not own the Park at that time).

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